WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after their first meeting on Monday that they agreed to expand cooperation between their two countries on combating terrorism, stabilizing Afghanistan and overcoming differences on trade.
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Mr. Trump said the U.S. and India are close to completing a natural-gas deal, though he quipped that it hadn't been signed yet because he is "trying to get the price up a little bit." He also called on India to remove barriers to U.S. exports to make way for "fair and reciprocal" trade between the two countries.
"The future of our partnership has never looked brighter," Mr. Trump said in a statement delivered standing alongside Mr. Modi in the Rose Garden at the White House.
Mr. Modi invited Mr. Trump to visit India with his family and said his economic vision for his country is compatible with the president's campaign-slogan promise to "Make America Great Again." He said India's development is in America's interest.
"Be assured that in this joint journey of our two nations towards development, growth and prosperity, I will remain a driven, determined, and decisive partner."
As part of closer cooperation on terrorism, he said the U.S. and India will enhance intelligence sharing.
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Mr. Trump also has yet to sign off on a policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Modi stressed that India has "played an important role in rebuilding Afghanistan."
Mr. Trump also mentioned his concern about North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs, saying it represents a threat that "has to be dealt with and probably dealt with rapidly." He didn't elaborate. Mr. Trump in a Twitter message last week said that his plan to enlist China in pressuring North Korea to reverse course "has not worked out."
In advance of Mr. Modi's White House visit, the U.S. sanctioned Mohammad Yusuf Shah, senior leader of a militant group that has used violence against Indian troops in the Kashmir region. India and Pakistan have been embroiled in a conflict for decades over Kashmir.
Mr. Trump briefly mentioned the importance of eliminating trade barriers that weigh on U.S. exports, but he didn't criticize the U.S. trade deficit with India in the same strong terms he has used toward other major economies.
U.S. merchandise imports from India are about twice the level of its exports to the South Asian country, resulting in a trade deficit of $24.4 billion last year. U.S. officials say barriers to agricultural goods and India's policies on intellectual property weigh on American farmers and businesses.
The meeting on Monday took place amid differences between Messrs. Modi and Trump on issues such as trade, climate change and immigration. Mr. Trump withdrew the U.S. from a 2015 international climate accord, of which India is a signatory.
But the two men papered over their differences as they worked to establish a rapport in discussions set over approximately four hours, including a private dinner at the White House. They hugged after their public statements.
After welcoming Mr. Modi, Mr. Trump said he had been reading about him and that India is doing well economically, for which he congratulated the prime minister. "It's a great honor to have Prime Minister Modi of India, who has been such a great prime minister," Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Modi said he was grateful for the visit and mentioned Mr. Trump's visit to India before he became president.
William Mauldin contributed to this article.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 26, 2017 19:51 ET (23:51 GMT)